Voting was going today amid tight security for by-elections in the Nellore Lok Sabha and 18 assembly constituencies in Andhra Pradesh, officials said.
About 10 percent voters cast their votes in the first one hour of polling. Voters were seen standing in queues even before the polling began at 8 a.m. at most of the 5,413 polling stations in these constituencies spread over 12 districts. The polling will close at 5 p.m.
The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements to ensure free, fair and peaceful polls, billed as the semi-final before the 2014 elections.
About 50,000 security personnel, mostly from the armed Central Reserve Police Force, were deployed while almost an equal number of polling staff were on duty.
Over 46 lakh voters will decide the political fortunes of 255 candidates, 13 of them in the Nellore Lok Sabha constituency.
Designated videographers and micro observers are recording the process of voting at each polling station. The election officials are also monitoring the polling through live web casting.
Booth level officers are distributing voter slips to prevent impersonation. The Election Commission has banned the distribution of voter slips by political parties.
However, voters in some constituencies complained that their names are either missing from the voters’ lists or they were enrolled in polling stations outside their area of residence.
The counting of votes will be taken up on Friday.
Most of the constituencies are witnessing triangular contests among the ruling Congress party, the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP).
Parkala is the only assembly constituency in Telangana going to the polls and the other major contenders here are the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The by-polls were necessitated by the resignation of one MP and disqualification of 17 rebels of the Congress who switched loyalties to the YSR Congress Party. The Tiruapti assembly seat fell vacant following the election of film actor-turned-legislator Chiranjeevi to the Rajya Sabha.
The stakes are high for all the three major parties with YSR Congress Party being seen as a front-runner. The party hopes to benefit from the sympathy wave in its favour following the arrest of its leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy by the CBI on corruption charges.
The by-polls earned the notoriety of being the worst in terms of seizure of unaccounted cash and valuables. The election officials said cash and valuables worth Rs.56 crore were seized during the campaign, a record in the state’s history.
About two lakh litres of liquor was also seized by the authorities during the last 15 days.